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Sawmill investigations update

Richmond, B.C., May 14, 2012 — Investigations into the catastrophic fires and explosions at Babine Forest Products sawmill in Burns Lake and Prince George’s Lakeland Mills continue.

On May 2, 2012, WorkSafeBC provided an update on the fire and explosion at the Babine Mill in order to provide the industry with information while the investigations are ongoing.

In keeping with our commitment to make as much information as possible available to industry, WorkSafeBC is today directing employers’ attention to similarities that have been observed during the course of both investigations. These are observations; no final conclusions have been reached with respect to cause and underlying factors.

In both investigations, the ignition sources appear to have been located at the conveyor level, where electrical and/or mechanical equipment was in operation in areas contained by walls and equipment. These areas are at the basement or lower level of both of the mills under investigation.   

Under the directive order that was issued to all sawmill employers on April 26, 2012, WorkSafeBC’s officers have been ensuring that sawmill employers are in compliance as outlined in that order.

The order and the compliance of industry to date is posted on WorkSafeBC’s website along with other information related to sawmill inspections and the investigations.

In their initial visits officers are conducting walk-through inspections of all sawmills and all associated site facilities.

In their follow-up inspections, officers will be assessing the hazard identification and risk assessments that employers must have; they will be reviewing the compliance plans that have been developed along with any interim measures to address immediate safety concerns.

Officers will be paying particular, but not exclusive, attention to areas similar to those identified in the Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills investigations.

Five elements are required for an explosion: fuel, ignition, dispersion, oxygen, and containment.

WorkSafeBC is an independent provincial statutory agency governed by a board of directors that serves about 2.3 million workers and more than 200,000 employers. WorkSafeBC was born from the historic compromise between B.C.’s workers and employers in 1917, where workers gave up the right to sue their employers and fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for a no-fault insurance program fully paid for by employers. WorkSafeBC is committed to safe and healthy workplaces and to providing return-to-work rehabilitation and legislated compensation benefits.


For information, please contact:

Megan Johnston
Communications Officer, Media Relations
WorkSafeBC
604 214-6934
megan.johnston@worksafebc.com